Things seemed bleak for Fort Osage when the first quarter ended Friday.
The Indians trailed Lee’s Summit 14-0 at home, having turned the ball over twice on offense and yielded more than 120 yards on defense.
Good thing for the Indians that football games last four quarters.
The Indians played near-flawless football the rest of the contest, scoring 35 unanswered points and improving to 3-0 on the season with a 35-14 win.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” Fort Osage coach Brock Bult said. “We didn’t get off to the greatest start, obviously, but they never quit and kept fighting. We knew we were making mistakes, we cleaned it up, came together, played together and found a way to get it done.”
The game saw the return of senior Isaiah Iloilo to running back, at least for a few carries, as he scored two touchdowns in addition to being his usual force on the defensive line.
“It feels amazing to carry the ball again,” Iloilo said. “I miss it a lot. But coach loves playing me on defense and I love playing defense and love being able to fill any kind of role that coach asks me to do. So being able to hop back there at running back, it’s a great feeling. It’s one of the best feelings I have, but I can’t do it without my offensive line.”
Fort Osage quarterback Ty Baker completed 15 of 22 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown and also added a score on the ground.
“The offense played well,” Baker said. “I had good protection from the line all night and the credit goes to them. The receivers were getting open, I just have to get them the ball and let them do their magic. When we get going as an offense it’s hard to stop.”
The Indians less-than-ideal first quarter began on the opening kickoff when Somaj Brewer returned it to the Fort Osage 7. Two plays later, Caden Perry plunged in from the 1 to give Lee’s Summit a 7-0 lead with less than 55 seconds off the clock.
A fumble and turnover on downs halted Fort Osage’s first two possessions before the Tigers used a 55-yard pass to Brewer to set up Preston Whitworth’s 1-yard TD run.
The Indians fumbled on their next play from scrimmage.
“It was all in our heads,” Iloilo said. “We came out and didn’t have the right mindset at the start of the game. After the first quarter we all readjusted, got right in our heads and just played football.”
The Fort Osage offense broke through midway through the second, Baker connecting with Richard Wiseman Jr. for a 29-yard touchdown pass.
After forcing a Lee’s Summit three-and-out, Baker hit Dominic Myers on a 55-yard pass to set up Iloilo’s 2-yard touchdown run.
On the Tigers next snap, Indians linebacker Von Young IV made arguably the play of the game with a leaping one-handed interception, then sprinted 54 yards for a touchdown.
“I was about to knock it down, but I brought it down and put another hand on it,” Young IV said. “I’m not used to having the ball anymore, so when I caught it, I kind of froze for a second. But when I realized what happened, I just took off.”
In a span of less than three and a half minutes, the Indians went from trailing by two touchdowns to leading 21-14.
Lee’s Summit (0-3) never threatened in the second half as the Fort Osage defense forced two fumbles, Ky’von Smith had an interception and Iloilo and Baker capped off Indians drives with touchdown runs from the 3 and 1.
“Our defense really stepped up,” Bult said. “We rotated a bunch of guys and I love seeing them play. We didn’t play perfectly as a team, but it’s a process and we can still get better. You play that hard you can overcome mistakes, and that’s what we preach.”
After a slow start to the 2016 season, Fort Osage is enjoying its hot start this fall.
“Last year we started 0-3, so 3-0 feels way better,” Baker said. “We’ve got a great team, but we’ve still got a lot of room to improve.”